My Mexican Experience in Thailand – ¡muy malo!

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As part of the week-long birthday festivities for Mrs. Adamu, on Friday we had the chance to visit Charley Brown’s Tex-Mex Cantina, one of the few places in Thailand that can claim to serve anything close to Mexican food. I ignored Cosmic Buddha’s reservations about the place and decided to go anyway. Some thoughts:

  • I’ll start with something positive: in terms of food, there was nothing Thai about it at all, so my taste buds could forget they were in Southeast Asia for an hour or so. But here’s the bottom line: I’ve had El Paso instant taco mixes in the US that were about on par with this. Seriously, it barely registered as restaurant-level Mexican food. I give the place credit for at least giving it the old college try, but I’d wonder whose white grandmother was making the stuff if I had it back home. No discernible flavor to the meat, and the end product felt very mashed together. My chicken burrito was smothered in cheese on the outside that made it soggy (unexpected bonus – the refried beans tasted just like the beans they serve at Popeye’s chicken!). On top of that, it ended up being one of the most expensive restaurants I’ve ever visited in Bangkok – the bill came to 800 baht (approx US$20) for two dishes offering middling portions and 3 Heinekens. Here’s what it the burrito looked like:
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  • The manager of the establishment, a young British-sounding man named Chris, made a go at being friendly and asked how our meal was. This practice of returning to a table after the meal is served and asking how things are going is standard for the US but is something I had never seen until I came here. Still, it was a little off-putting when he decided to put off bringing us our bill to down a shot with some other ex-pats, who made themselves enough of a part of our dining experience that they earn their own bullet point below:
  • Our experience was badly marred by its intended customer base: Western tourists and sexpats. Mrs. Adamu and I could barely carry on a conversation over a boisterous group of Aussies, and people filtered in and out from a nearby outdoor whites-only drinking establishment. Worse than that, however, had to be the pasty white men and their Thai hooker escorts sitting at the 3 tables around us. Nothing ruins a meal faster than seeing some 50-something ‘Nam vet pawing at his new plaything between bites of enchilada. Oh, and their fat bodies bounced around enough to rattle Mrs. Adamu’s seat since the booth chairs were connected. We kind of knew what to expect after we tried to eat there unsuccessfully on Monday (it’s closed on Mondays, a fact that didn’t make itself known on the online site we checked), since to get there one must wade through myriad cheap crap stores, decrepit beggars, and numerous prostitution venues. The area outside the Nana skytrain station is notorious as a red light district, so in that sense it’s our fault for going in the first place.
  • Recommendation: unless you have no problem with sex tourism and are sure that you’ll never ever visit a part of the world with good Mexican food again, stay away from Charley Brown’s.

    4 thoughts on “My Mexican Experience in Thailand – ¡muy malo!”

    1. I went there a few years back and had an equally awful experience. A german couple sitting quite close to my table started whispering and giggling about my table ettiquette (standard back of the fork, British Empire, you know, how the queen eats her peas, what). Because my table manners were obviously ‘foreign’, the word they used was “Spartan” – i.e. not German, they assumed that I wouldn’t understand what they were saying. Unfortunately, due to a past life in Bavaria, I speak German fluently. I then sat there for half an hour listening to them variously commenting on my inverted fork technique or speculating on my sexual proclivities and what I would be getting up to later that night (I was alone). Every now and then the woman would say something like “Do you think he understands us?” and the guy would shake is head. At the end of the meal I mentioned to them (in German) that I had heard them speaking German and asked them where they were from. The guy went bright red and the girl almost disappeared under the table.

      You’re right though, the food was ass.

    2. It’s tough to get even passable Mexican in Tokyo. I’m assuming it gets harder and harder to get authentic Mexican the further into Southeast Asia one goes.

      That said, it’s similar in Italy. Italian food in Italy is sublime. Any other cuisine in Italy, forget it.

    3. Have you tried that Senor Pico’s place yet? I’ll be settling in out here in the sticks for a while, but maybe we can hit it up once I go back that way.

      By the way, in case you haven’t tried it yet, you might pick up a bottle of Archa brand beer. It’s perhaps the cheapest brand of Thai-manufactured beer I have found, but it tastes better than the top brands IMHO – and I reconfirmed this again just today.


      Gen – We might end up having to just give up on Mexican, but there are some pretty good Italian restaurants in BKK.

    4. Last night I ate at a Mexican bar/restaurant in Kyoto that is actually a regular hangout for a group of Latin guys, including at least one Mexican. That should say something about the food. In your face Bangkok!

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